[OPE-L:8368] Re: Re: Re: Education and Value

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.co.uk)
Date: Tue Jan 21 2003 - 16:38:46 EST

This exchange  perhaps needs to reflect on the fact that the distinction
between productive and unproductive labour is made in order to deepen our
understanding of the accumulation process, to provide an objective analysis,
and so provide us with the basis for uniting all workers against capital
( the productive worker and his unproductive bank working sister). That
capital bribes a section of its key workers (both productive and
unproductive) , and the imperialist states have even more to bribe more of
HQ workers with,  is an issue of political reality. It requires an
understanding of the nature and changes in the labour aristocracy.  That is
the locus of  political discussion, which cannot possibly fall back on some
bizarre notion that 'unproductive' workers are somehow not really 'workers'
or  automatically actively pro-capitalist!!

Paul Bullock

----- Original Message -----
From: <clyder@gn.apc.org>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003 9:57 PM
Subject: [OPE-L:8366] Re: Re: Education and Value

> Quoting gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>:
> > Re Paul C's [8359]:
> >
> > Let me begin on a point of agreement: I agree with 3. in [8359].
> >
> > Putting aside that source of agreement for now,  I want to take issue
> > with a couple of points you made:
> >
> > > 1. For a group to have a potentially progressive role, they have to
> > >     see their activity as persisting and being better rewarded in the
> > >     future society. (snip)
> >
> > Groups of workers can't even be _potentially_ progressive unless
> > they view themselves as being better off in a future (socialist)
> This seems to me to be an obvious and uncontroversial point. If we
> take a materialist view, we can hardly expect social groups to act
> against their own percieved interest.
> >
> > Let us recall here that we're talking about the productive/unproductive
> > labor distinction and that the ratio of productive to unproductive
> > workers has been steadily declining over the long term (as the empirical
> > work by Anwar, Fred and others demonstrates).  For you to then say
> > that large segments of workers who are unproductive of surplus value
> > can't even be _potentially_ progressive is tantamount to saying that
> > large amounts of workers -- perhaps even including a majority -- will
> > not be supportive of  socialism. Oops ... there goes the revolution.
> Well I had not noticed any revolutions taking place in the countries with
> large proportions of the workforce in financial services!
> You have to account for the massive conservatism if not outright
> nature of the political process in the anglo saxon countries. My
> is that the long term influence of the financial/rentier interest and
> its associated servant classes accounts for this.
> >
> > > 4. Reciept of surplus value as an income source puts banking workers
> > >    objectively opposed to the working class and this is reflected in
> > >   politics - see how they vote.
> >
> > State employees receive wages that are paid out of revenues, i.e. they
> > are in receipt of surplus value as an income source,  and hence
> > are unproductive of surplus value.  Does this then also mean that they
> > are "objectively opposed to the working class"???
> One must be quite clear that there are real conflicts of interest between
> state employees and industrial workers. These can be politically
> On the other hand some sections of state employees, constitute a servant
> class of the proletariat in that their services are consumed in large
> part by the working class - most obvious examples of this are people like
> cleansing workers, teachers, nurses in public hospitals etc. As such
> these groups tend to identify with the working class, and tend to be
> favourably disposed to socialism since socialism would retain them
> as a category, and offer them better living standards.
> > There is a very real
> > political danger of  identifying the criteria  for determining whether
> > groups are productive of surplus value with the criteria for determining
> > which groups are members of the working class.  Indeed, if we simply
> > identify productive labor with the working class, i.e. treat the two
> > expressions as synonymous,  then we give up on the possibility of real
> > working class unity and solidarity and with it the possibility of
> > socialism.
> I agree, that simply identifying if a group are productive or unproductive
> is not in itself enough. One needs to also see whose flunkies they are.
> >
> > We also have to remember that what is analyzed in _Capital_ is
> > which workers are "productive" or "unproductive" from the
> > *standpoint of capital*.
> It is, I think, slightly more subtle. In Capital the key feature,
> is whether the workers are productive for capital as a whole
> not whether they are productive for individual capitals.
> Thus workers who appear to be productive to a firm of investment
> bankers, and who get fat annual bonuses as a result, can
> be unproductive from the standpoint of capital as a whole.
> > In _recognizing_ this distinction, we can not
> > take it over wholesale since the *working-class perspective* on who
> > is "productive" is not the same as the capitalist perspective. From
> > a working-class perspective,  workers need to comprehend how they
> > are *united*  regardless of their diversity even while coming to terms
> > with that diversity.  This *unity-in-diversity* by the working class
> > presupposes that alliances will be developed among all workers
> > including those who political economy defines as being unproductive.
> You should not wish for the impossible. You have to be able
> to formulate a program that will unite a sufficiently broad
> coalition to be effective, but if you try to accomodate the
> interests of the financial sector employees you end up with
> Tony Blair's version of socialism.
> >
> > (NB: this does not, though, necessarily mean that managers are
> > productive of surplus-value.  In addition to your point 3. in [8359],
> > we should note that although they receive wages, they are not
> > wage *workers*.   Even capitalists themselves, after all, can pay
> > themselves wages: this accounting maneuver does not miraculously
> > transform them into wage-workers.)
> >
> > Solidarity, Jerry
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >

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